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Times deadline deferred

The New York Times Co. has postponed tomorrow's deadline for prospective buyers of The Boston Globe to submit preliminary bids for the newspaper, people briefed on the sales process said. No new date has been set for the bids.

Representatives of Goldman Sachs & Co., the investment banking firm hired by the Times Co. to manage the newspaper sale, have told interested parties they will be given more time to prepare an initial offer for the Globe and its sister paper, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, the sources said. The sources asked not to be identified because they weren't authorized to discuss the process.

In a letter to potential bidders last month, Goldman Sachs requested the nonbinding bids by July 8. The letter also said buyers would be asked to assume about $59 million in pension liability for the two papers. And it suggested that approved parties would be notified about a week later about taking part in a second round of bidding.

On July 20, the Globe's largest labor union, the Boston Newspaper Guild, will vote on a new contract that would cut wages and benefits by $10 million. Prospective bidders had been working on their offers in an environment of uncertainty over whether union members would ratify a contract that includes, among other things, a freeze in pension contributions and the elimination of lifetime job guarantees for about 170 veteran Guild employees.

The union's membership last month rejected a previous contract offer, prompting the Times Co. to realize cost-savings by imposing a 23 percent wage cut on Guild members. Goldman Sachs's representatives did not cite the upcoming second Guild vote as a factor in delaying the bidding deadline, the sources said.

Spokespeople for the Globe, the Times Co., and Goldman Sachs declined to comment on the postponement yesterday.

Three local businessmen have surfaced as potential Globe bidders: Stephen Pagliuca, co-owner of the Boston Celtics and managing director at the Bain Capital private equity firm; Jack Connors, a former advertising executive and chairman of Partners HealthCare; and, Stephen Taylor, a former Globe executive and member of the family that sold the newspaper to the Times Co. for $1.1 billion in 1993. Connors and Pagliuca, who initially were considering separate bids, requested and were given permission by Goldman Sachs to join forces and submit a common bid.

Thus far, no media companies or financial firms - reliable bidders in past newspaper sales - have been identified as potential buyers of the Globe and the Telegram & Gazette, though some believe the names of additional bidders from Massachusetts and beyond have yet to emerge.

Hometown Bank officers

OXFORD - Hometown Bank recently elected new officers. Elected were Jeanne L. Katrenak, chairman; James O'Coin, vice chairman; Matthew S. Sosik, president, CEO and treasurer; Sam S. Pappas, first vice president; and Daniel S. Rovero, second vice president. Positions filled were Jonathan Oglebay, assistant vice president and assistant treasurer; Michael Mahlert, vice president/senior loan officer; John Nutter, assistant vice president and security officer; Norma Collins, assistant vice president of operations, and Paula Duhamel, clerk of the board of directors. The board also honored the retirement of Robert Duteau, Windsor Bigelow and Donald Claprood.

Mr. Sosik reported that Hometown Bank's performance in 2008 earned the bank a place among the most elite and safest banks in the country. As of Dec. 31, Hometown Bank was listed as the most profitable of the 148 mutual banks in Massachusetts.

In 2008, Hometown's total assets grew more than 7 percent, to $203.9 million. The bank increased its loan portfolio to $174 million, up more than 11 percent for the year. The bank's earned net income of $2 million for the year represents a 1.01 percent return on average assets ratio.

"In spite of the well-documented economic and banking-industry problems, Hometown Bank continues to perform well in 2009," Mr. Sosik said in a press release.

Hometown Bank has offices in Webster, Oxford and Sturbridge.

EMC raises offer

HOPKINTON - EMC Corp. has raised its offer for Data Domain Inc. to $33.50 a share in cash, outbidding for a second time rival NetApp Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., for the data storage company. The new offer values Santa Clara, Calif.-based Data Domain at about $2.1 billion and removes provisions that would prevent Data Domain shareholders from seeking a better offer, EMC said Monday. The company also said it doesn't need to borrow to finance the deal. Buying Data Domain would give EMC technology that helps customers use less disk space when storing information. (Bloomberg News)

Gas prices down again

BOSTON - Gasoline prices in Massachusetts have fallen for the second consecutive week, the first time this year prices have dropped two weeks in a row. AAA Southern New England reported yesterday that the average cost of a gallon of self-serve, regular unleaded fell by 2 cents in the past week to $2.59. The price is 2 cents below the national average and $1.49 less than at the same last year. Prices ranged from a low of $2.45 to a high of $2.85 per gallon. (Associated Press)

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Title Annotation:MONEY
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 7, 2009
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